Cuban dancer puts his own spin on pitch to Chapman
Cervilio Amador turned his back to home plate, just like Johnny
Cueto. Then he did two spins in the air before landing gracefully
and throwing a ceremonial pitch to Cincinnati Reds closer Aroldis
Ballet and baseball, a double tour.
The Cuban dancer and the Cuban pitcher teamed up for a special
moment before Sunday’s game against the Milwaukee Brewers. They
left Cuba several years apart and have furthered their high-profile
careers in Cincinnati, where they became friends.
Amador always wanted to throw a pitch at a Reds game – he’s a
big baseball fan – and Chapman helped him do it.
The move was all his own.
”I did a Cueto windup and then it was OK, a double tour,”
Amador said, referring to his gravity-defying double spin from the
front of the mound.
The throw? Right there. The nerves? There, too.
”You know what? I did get nervous when I started walking to the
mound,” said Amador, who has performed in front of thousands as a
Cincinnati Ballet principal dancer for the last eight years. ”It
reminded me of what I feel right before I go on stage and start
performing. Your heart just pumps.
”I was like, `Just breathe, you can do this.’ So much
The island’s two famous performers enjoyed the chance to share
such a moment. Amador left Cuba in 2003 and joined the Cincinnati
Ballet. Chapman defected in 2009 and signed with the Reds. They met
at a mutual friend’s birthday party and became friends, active in a
close-knit Cuban community in Cincinnati.
”Since I met him, we’ve had a good relationship,” Chapman
said, with assistant trainer Tomas Vera translating. ”He’s a great
Amador played baseball in the streets of Cuba as a boy, but was
never on a team – dance was his thing. Chapman helped him realize
one of his dreams by assisting with the ceremonial pitch. He gave
him some tips on throwing before Friday’s game to prepare him.
After his spin and fling, Amador got the ball from Chapman as a
keepsake and walked over to the railing of the Reds dugout for a
long, animated chat with manager Dusty Baker, who visited Cuba a
few years ago as part of a diplomatic trip for the arts.
While in Cuba, Baker visited the national ballet school where
”He was telling me his experience when he went to Cuba,”
Amador said. ”He went to the school that I went to, and they
performed for him. That’s pretty cool.”
Amador, wearing a Reds jersey with No. 50, waved to the cheering
fans as he left the field and headed for a tunnel at the end of the
Brewers’ dugout. Milwaukee shortstop Jean Segura called to him in
Spanish, giving him grief about his delivery. Amador joked
”Those guys were giving me a hard time,” Amador said.
Didn’t bother him.
”They’re on the opposite team,” he said.
There’s only one bit of unfinished business for the dancer and
the closer. Chapman has never seen Amador on stage.
”I haven’t seen him dance, but I want to go,” Chapman said.
”He told me he has a new show in September, so I want to see
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